Askia on Pan Africanism

Askia on Pan Africanism


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



I am a radical Socialist, and an African Internationalist/humanist

who has dedicated his life for the liberation of Humanity




Books by Dr. Charles S. Finch III

Echoes of the Old Darkland: Themes from the African Eden  /  The Star of Deep Beginnings / Africa and the Birth of Science and Technology

Biblio Africana: An Annotated Reader’s Guide to African Cultural History and Related Subjects

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Books by Molefi Asante

The History of Africa: The Quest for Eternal Harmony The Afrocentric Idea

The Egyptian Philosophers: Ancient African Voices from Imhotep to Akhenaten / Afrocentricity / Afrocentricity: The theory of Social Change 

African American History: A Journey of Liberation   / Kemet, Afrocentricity and Knowledge / Egypt vs. Greece and the American Academy 

 Erasing Racism: The Survival of the American Nation  / Race, Rhetoric, And Identity: The Architecton Of Soul

100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia

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Books by Askia M. Touré

From the Pyramids to the Projects: Poems of Genocide and Resistance!  / Dawnsong:The Epic Memory of Askia Toure

African Affirmations: Songs for Patriots Biography – Toure, Askia Muhammad Abu Bakr el (1938-)


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Askia on Pan Africanism

The discussion below occurred after I shared with Askia a review of Richard Wright’s White Man Listen!  I had written for African Renaissance. This review pointed out Wright’s emphasis on the African need to place more emphasis on rationalism than such African “traits” as ancestor worship and magic. Askia assumed that I was attacking the views he expressed in an interview I did with him. But it was shared to show how I am struggling with the traditional nationalist and Pan African views and how such writers as Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison responded to the usability of African cultures in understanding the world in which African Americans operate.

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Rudy, You seem intent on continuing this dispute we had about my Pan African values when you interviewed me. Remember, I’m not alone in championing Pan African values: Dr. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, George Padmore, John Henrik Clarke, Walter Rodney, Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Ture and other modern leaders, scholars, writers and sages also followed this line of thinking. Both you (who seem t/have obvious issues with African Traditional cultures, via your Christianity) and Marvin X  and my former mentor, Dr. Nathan Hare seem to take an either/or attitude about the Ancestors and our African Heritage.

Because you continue patronizing African Traditions (with what seems to be obvious scorn for “savages,” or at least “primitives”), I suggest that you read The Star of Deep Beginnings on Pre-colonial African science and technology, by Dr. Charles Finch, Chairman of International Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine.

Dr. Finch, a sophisticated, internationalist and cosmopolitan thinker, author and traveler is someone whom you’d probably trust, in terms of opinions, instead of myself. He is also a Christian scholar, but an expert on Ancient Egyptian contributions to the origins of medicine and the “hard” sciences. I envision you, Marvin, and Dr. Hare on the extreme Left in terms of the Black Studies issue, i.e., Black Studies strictly for the advancement of the African-American Community, via technology, the Internet, Sciences, etc.


And Dr. Molefi Asante, Dr. Karenga, Kalamu ya Salaam  & the “Culturalists” as being on the Right, with an almost Idolatry of Afrocentrism or Africology.

I see myself, Dr. Joyce, Dr. Jemadari Kamara, Prof. Tony Van Der Meer (co-authors of the new Pan African anthology, State of the Race: Creating Our 21st Century, Where Do We Go from Here?) as taking the Sankofa position of studying the history, cultural legacy and wisdom of the ancient and traditional Africans, in order to trace Ancient Africa’s contributions to Humanity, while embracing Science and Technology, on Pan African terms–i.e. for Self-determination and advancement of the entire African World.

As I told you before, I am not–I repeat, not–a narrow culturalist! I am a radical Socialist, and an African Internationalist/humanist who has dedicated his life for the liberation of Humanity.  It is important not to make “assumptions” about colleagues, then move based upon what may indeed be false “assumptions”.

I think my main difference with you, Rudy, is that I feel that there is much that we can learn from our Pre-colonial African Ancestors (not to be confused with Today’s poor wretches who are dazed, crazed and Europeanized with self-hatred and overall Euro-centric aspirations for the African Future.

Who are, in fact, still slaves still suffering from the Holocaust of Colonial Genocide!) Please don’t confuse the great Pre-colonial geniuses whom Dr. Charles Finch writes about with the “Nigerian Gangsters” of Today’s Neo-colonial Africa. Thank god, they are not one and the same!

Peace Out, Askia

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Askia, peace and blessings,

My brother there ain’t no difference between us, not in terms of hostility. Your lines are drawn more defined and boldly than what I can say and have faith in. I believe that those differences are probably natural. Our experience and our training differ. I do not question your integrity and I respect the dignity of your person and your efforts.

I am not against Pan Africanism, Du Bois nor Rodney nor Senghor. But I am not into discipleship, especially to men of limited vision. I am not against idealizing Africa or the idealization of our politics. But surely that is not all. I am pleased with the scholarship that is being done by African and African Americans on Egypt and tribal Africa, then and now. But all of that is a sideshow to the realities of US Blacks. A minor key.

I do have an interest in pre-colonial Africa and how that past is interpreted of and spoken of. I am very interested in Africans who lived in both worlds at once as we find in this book The Autobiography of an Unknown South AfricanBut I want that which looks at all of this with fresh eyes innocent of this or that ideology, and this is the rub with those who identify themselves by this or that label. I define poet as he who stands apart, not he who belongs to the “in crowd” or the out crowd, for that matter. I want honest observation, appraisal, and creative expression of truth discovered.

I like Marvin X, especially because he’s humorous and that he can make fun of himself and expose himself to the nth degree and still retain his dignity and integrity. Marvin is not afraid to ask the hard questions.  He however at times goes into territory that I fear to tread. Marvin however is adaptive, innovative, and enterprising. I admire him.

Kalamu ya Salaam is an extraordinary writer. I have learned much from him. He continues to set examples that people should follow. He gives of himself without expectation of pay. I like that, I like that a lot: his creation of e-drum is instructive. I regret he does not write poetry and prose more than he does. But he’s into the digital image and making films. I suppose he allows he is a “cultural worker,” that he’d call himself a “culturalist,” I doubt it. And I suspect that he would not place himself as close to Asante as you may think.

Kalamu tries very hard to be honest to himself and to writing, e.g., Malcolm My Son — though he may be more detailed than that which I find comfortable. But he’s constantly exploring, though he has his rigid views of what is true. He is a thinker and he can make his thinking understood. For instance, there is this report he did on the Furious Flower Conference, last year in Virginia — in the hot house of black poetry. He points out a gulf between those who write personal poetry and those who write political poetry.

His view, I believe, is that poetry should be more holistic, like his erotica which is both personal and political — Feminism, Black Erotica & Revolutionary Love.

Though I have an interest in African history and the past, I am more interested in how we think or emphasize those matters. My emphasis is on now and what is at arm’s length and immediate. I’m for a greater realism and reappraisal than for celebrating racial essences and yesterday’s glory.

How to read matters now and here is in itself a monumental challenge. Wright and Ellison, I believe, may have gone too far in deemphasizing the importance of Africa and Egypt for US Blacks. Their challenge however should not be scorned. For their reading of Afro-America might indeed be on the money.

Joyce goes too far for me that is comfortable. As I understand, she says that Pan-Africanism is her religion. One wonders who is her god. Du Bois? Yes, you are right magic altars and ancestor worship rhetoric (now in vogue) also make me uncomfortable, not because they do not have value, but because of demagogic abuse for opportunistic gain.

We need to refine our thinking for now and the future, and put in some safeguards in how our thinking is read, thus the greater need for exchange and challenging questions of the assumed. As we attempted in Rudy Interviews Askia Touré. I learned much from your recounting of the history you lived. Yet we did not draw the same conclusions. 

As ever and always, Rudy

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Askia Muhammad Touré, right alongside Amiri Baraka , Larry Neal, Sonia Sanchez, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, etc., is considered one of the principal architects of the 1960s Black Arts/Black Aesthetic movements. A member of the legendary Umbra Group and of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Touré has remained an activist poet of conscience throughout his years. His other books include Earth (1968), JuJu: Magic Songs for the Black Nation (with playwright Ben Caldwell / 1970), Songhai! (1972), and From the Pyramids to the Projects (1990), which won an American Book Award. Widely published in Black Scholar, Soulbook, Black Theatre, Black World, and Freedomways, his poems and essays have embodied the ideology of a people seeking to reclaim their images and history. His recent publications include two collections of poetry Mother Earth Responds: Green Poems and Alternative Visions (Whirlwind Press), and African Affirmations: Songs for Patriots (Africa World Press). 

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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updated 20 October 2007



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